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fossilized light in a growing universe. and also an 80-year-old justice that weighs 100 pounds and can do 20 push-ups. if you have any thoughts on that, take it up with the warden because now you have to go to prison. "weekends with alex witt" starts now. new and alarming. north korea ratchets up its threats against the u.s. but could it follow through on firing missiles at america? we'll bring you the very latest on this developing story. guns, immigration, the economy, a week of swiftly moving issues as the president tries to tackle them all. what comes first? and the next chapter. will american amanda knox be forced to go back to italy? facing murder charges once again. we have some new answers this morning. and soda fizzle. a new report on changing american habits, that's in our three big money headlines for you. hi, everybody, great to have you with me today. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." i'm thomas roberts, alex has a much-deserved day off. here's what's happening for you now. in north korea, just announcing
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it has entered a quote, state of war, against south korea. meaning it will deal with every issue with the south in a wartime manner. this follows a string of warnings and threats by north korea against south korea and the u.s. for its routine military drills. nbc's ian williams is in south korea with the very latest on this escalating tension. ian, good morning. >> not only did north korea today declare what it calls a state of war, it said it will now deal with south korea according to wartime regulations. now, it's not exactly clear what that means. since this peninsula has been in a technical state of war for 60 years. there never having been a formal peace treaty after the korean war. officials here in seoul dismissed the latest outburst as more of the same. it followed a massive rally in the northern capital friday, where tens of thousands turned out in support of north korean leader kim jong-un's call to arms. chanting, death to the u.s. imperialists.
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kim said earlier that the time had come to, quote, settle accounts with the u.s. this was in response to a u.s. show of force, b-2 bombers in exercises over south korea. kim has also ordered his missiles on standby to strike the u.s., south korea, guam, even hawaii. experts doubt he has the ability to hit u.s. targets, and think it would be pretty suicidal to try. they believe a full-scale conflict is unlikely, but do worry about a more localized provocation, perhaps around disputed waters in the yellow sea. there have been several clashes there in recent years and when i visited the area friday, i found the south most vulnerable islands just ten miles from the north on a high state of alert. the big worry is that a local skirmish or miscalculation could quickly escalate. >> ian, thank you. for more on what this means for u.s. allies here's our nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell. andrea?
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>> thomas, experts say that the real danger here is you have a young leader, he's got his finger on nuclear weapons, and he needs to prove himself or he wants to prove himself to some of the military. since he's only in his late 20s, he was made a four-star general and president virtually overnight. he doesn't know very much about how the world works. he's running a hermetically sealed country. and we see him in recent days meeting with his generals in front of a map showing u.s. cities with the word target written on them in korean. this is clearly for domestic consumption. it is very unlikely that he has nuclear-tipped missiles that could even reach the u.s. mainland. no one thinks he does. but north korea does keep conducting missile and underground nuclear tests. and certainly he could attack okinawa. he could reach guam, even hawaii. and, of course, he could target our south korean and japanese allies. and that's the real danger. he has 800,000 troops poised only 40 miles from seoul. the capital of south korea. and the big worry is there could be a mistake.
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a miscalculation by the north, and that would force the newly elected south korean leader, its first woman president, to retaliate. experts say she has very little flexibility, and that would instantly bring the united states into this conflict. so that's why you saw the u.s. try to scare, or deter north korea, i should say, by sending those b-2 stealth bombers in their first nonstop round trip practice run this week from the united states. it's a signal to north korea, and also very strong signal to our allies in the region to south korea and japan that you don't have to try to seek nuclear weapons on your own, as some in those countries want to, that we have your back. thomas? >> andrea, thanks so much again. this is a fluid situation. we're going to keep our eye on it. coming up at the half hour former assistant secretary of state p. crowley is going to be here and will north korea's actions lead to war? what's the tipping point, and would the u.s. take preemptive action? that is a big question. answers for you coming up at the
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bottom of the hour. we shift gears to politics now, and republican congressman don young, now apologizing for using an ethnic slur for immigrant workers during a recent radio interview. the 40-year member of congress issued a statement yesterday reading in part, i apologize for the insensitive term i used. there was no malice in my heart or intent to offend. it was a poor choice of words, that word and the negative attitudes that come with it should be left in the 20th century. and i'm sorry that this has shifted our focus away from comprehensive immigration reform. now this was not the only controversial comment from a prominent republican this week. dr. ben carson now says that he's willing to withdraw from giving the commencement speech at johns hopkins medical school due to students protesting what appeared to be his comparison of same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia. dr. carson spoke to msnbc's andrew mitchell yesterday. >> i certainly don't have any problem with people who are gay
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having legal arrangements. in fact, any two adults, gay, straight, whatever. certainly they can have legal arrangements. they should be treated just as anyone else. but, being treated just as anyone else no one else gets to change the definitions of standard, you know, societal pillars. so, why should anybody have that right? >> well, "the new york times" is reporting that we may be close to a deal on immigration reform. officials tell the paper that business and labor groups are near an agreement on a guest worker program. and this is welcome news for the bipartisan senate gang of eight who said this week that talks had stalled. but now senator chuck schumer is telling the "times," quote, we are very close. closer than we've ever been. we are very optimistic but there are a few issues remaining. unquote. now the senators are hoping to introduce a bill when congress returns to washington coming up in april. now want to bring you an update on nelson mandela's condition. he is spending a third day in a south african hospital where he's being treated for a lung infection.
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mandela's oldest grandson told a london newspaper the former south african president is doing well, but the family is under no illusions. the 94-year-old has been admitted to the hospital three times in the past four months for respiratory problems. all right want to shift gears to weather now. find out what's taking place around the country. a taste of spring, finally, finally here in new york city. want to see what the rest of the country can expect for today. for that we say hi to nbc meteorologist dillon drier with the forecast. dylan? >> good morning, thomas. it is actually going to be nice and quiet for the most part for this holiday weekend. temperatures look warmest in the pacific northwest, though. warmer than they've seen out that way in quite some time. even though it is a little cool right now we are going to see temperatures get up to about 66 degrees in seattle. 71 in boise, idaho. the hottest temperatures stay, obviously, in the desert southwest, phoenix should make it up to about 87. a closer look, though, shows portland should get into the 70s. 72 in medford, oregon. we will be a little cooler in san francisco, where a couple of showers are possible today. should hold us in the 60s out
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that way. can you see there's a line of rain basically from minnesota to eastern texas. there is a chance that we could see some stronger thunderstorms today, especially eastern oklahoma, moving into arkansas, and eventually louisiana. that will continue to move through the gulf coast region, as we make it into easter sunday. the northeast, though, does look nice and sunny. temperatures pleasant, too. we should top out today in the upper 50s in the northeast. that rain is going to be light for the most part across northern minnesota, but heavier rain is going to move into the tennessee river valley, through the day today, it will start to move eastward for easter sunday. and the rain in the northeast really won't make it in here until late in the day on sunday but we could see some pockets of steadier rain and some thunderstorms on easter down across the gulf coast. thomas? >> dylan, thanks. 35 educators are now facing charges in a major cheating scandal in atlanta. they were indicted just yesterday. and the scandal is believed to be the biggest in the nation's history. among those indicted beverly paul the former school's superintendent. a state investigation began in
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2009, after the atlanta journal constitution found steep, unexplicable rises in student test scores. one parent brought her concerns to the school board in 2006, after her daughter scored exceptionally well on a state exam, despite struggling through much of the third grade. >> i'm disappointed. as a parent, that wants the best for their child, i'm very disappointed. >> now the charges ranged from racketeering to theft for the annual bonuses that educators collected that were all based on those bogus test results. so a really strange moment on the arizona border with washington's gang of eight. plus, the great coupon crackdown. pores just by washing? [ female announcer ] neutrogena® pore refining cleanser. alpha-hydroxy and exfoliating beads work to clean and tighten pores so they can look half their size. pores...shrink 'em down to size! [ female announcer ] pore refining cleanser. neutrogena.®
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new this morning, north
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korea declaring it a quote state of war with the south. the latest word today coming after a week of provocative military moves and statements by the north koreans toward both the u.s., and south korea, as well. we're going to have more on this coming up at the bolt up of the hour with p.j. crowley. well joining me now is white house reporter for the hill amie parnes and emily heil, columnist for "the washington post." amie i want to start with you. this is the big story today, north korea with more new threats against the u.s., and its threats against the south. they haven't seemed to receive. but give us a read on how concerned the administration is about this, especially when we consider the young new leader kim jong-un and the fact that he is not well known in international waters. >> sure. well, thomas, the white house is basically saying that any further threats by north korea would only lead to further he isolation. they're putting all blame on north korea right now, even though the u.s. and south korea have been practicing exercises over there. they're saying that the
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escalation is all squarely because of north korea. but i think they are a little bit concerned. >> it certainly is posturing from a lot of different angles here. emily i want to play for everybody what defense secretary chuck hagel had to say on thursday. take a listen. >> you only need to be wrong once. and i don't know what president or what chairman or what secretary of defense wants to be wrong once when it comes to nuclear threats. >> so, emily, what should we be reading into those comments made by defense secretary hagel? >> well, i think you're hearing a guy who hasn't been on the job all that long and it's already concerned about his legacy and how history will remember him. putting himself in the context of other secretaries of states and presidents, too. but i think what he's saying is pretty much at face value, which is, you know, we don't want to dismiss these threats, as more blustering. you have to take them seriously in some way, and i think that's what he's doing. i think that, you know, it's easy to dismiss them.
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but like you said, kim jong-un is an unknown quantity. he's unpredictable. and i think that the defense department, i think chuck hagel, and others are taking this very seriously in a way maybe they haven't before. >> as our andrea mitchell pointed out, it's the fact that he is an untested new leader, and what is his mentality when it comes to proving that he is up to this job that has been handed to him now? and as hagel points out, it's never wise to overestimate or underestimate anyone, emily. >> i think that's right. i think that he is treading very carefully here. and feeling out this new leader. and we don't know a lot about him. and i think this will prove to be a pretty crucial moment in this developing relationship. >> amie, i want to move back to what's going on domestically here and the push by the president, the new push, on gun control. columnist dana millbank in today's "washington post" points out obama made an impassioned bid this week to revive prospects for gun control legislation but it's difficult to escape the conclusion that his efforts come too late.
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as dana says harry reid had to drop the plans for legislation on the assault weapons ban, and large clips because the support wasn't there, would that have happened regardless of the president maybe not having been pushing this agenda as he should have been? >> well, i think it would have happened regardless of any president. i mean the truth of the matter is that the nation's attention span is -- we -- it's very thin and we've forgotten pretty quickly. so i think that's why you saw the white house and the president this week sort of on this reminder tour, not just on gun control, but on immigration,age other things. you know, he spent so much time focused on sequestration and he was in israel last week he sort of aimed to bring it back this week and say, hey, we haven't forgotten. these are still my priorities. but you know, congress and washington does move pretty -- the only time that it really does act as if it's on something pretty quickly like 9/11 they acted very quickly. so they might have lost their window here, and i think that's of some concern to some people. >> even as the president pointed
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out, though, during that speech, that we were still less than 100 days after the newtown tragedy, you know, when we think about that, less than 100 days from, you know, this slaughter of all those innocent kids. and america has moved on? the attention span is that short? >> i mean, it is pretty short. but you know, he's going to be -- he's going to travel to denver this week. he's going to keep pushing this. the white house is pretty convinced that they can at least get background checks done, so i mean that remains to be seen, thomas. but we'll see. >> well the president also has this coordination emily with the fact that there is the group that the -- the mayors against gun violence. we know that michael bloomberg, new york city's mayor, has been out front on this. do you think that effort, that, that ground support in major cities around the country with mayors and the grassroots, that can help get legislation passed, especially when we talk about the fact that there is overwhelming support around the country for simple background checks? if we can't get that done, what hope is there for anything? >> well, that ad campaign is
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interesting. you know, that group, the mayor's group, founded by mayor bloomberg, is going up against the nra which is very powerful, very well organized and very well funded. it's in some ways just a small drop in the bucket against the opposition there. also, i think there's some fear that mayor bloomberg himself can be a very polarizing figure. one thing we've noticed in this debate over gun control is there is so much paranoia. and i think that in some ways mayor bloomberg serves as a pretty good boogie man. he's the guy who wants to take away your big gulp. he's big government. i mean he's a republican, but i think he is a new york city republican. >> right. he wants to hide the smokes, too. don't forget about that, too. he wants to hide the smokes. >> right. and so there's -- there's a feeling that maybe he is -- he is, you know, actually in some ways eroding this message and making it harder for, for the very cause that he's spending a
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lot of money in, in support of. >> amie parnes, emily heil, thanks so much for joining me. now we move on to oklahoma where officials there will begin testing thousands of people, thousands, who may have been exposed to hiv and hepatitis-c by their dentist. state health officials issued severe health warnings after an investigation led them so some very disturbing findings at that dentist's office. nbc's charles hadlock is in tulsa, oklahoma. what's the latest on this very scary situation? i know that they were limited in wanting to call this an outbreak or use the term outbreak as they continue the investigation. >> yeah, the testing is just as a precaution, thomas. the -- when state health inspectors looked into this clinic earlier this month they said that they were physically sickened by what they found. as a result of what they found here, thousands of patients will now have to be tested for infection. the dental office of dr. scott harrington remains closed this morning after he voluntarily surrendered his dental license,
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and is now cooperating with state health authorities. beginning today, thousands of his patients will undergo blood tests at this public clinic to determine if they have contracted blood-borne illnesses such as hiv and hepatitis-c. >> every patient assumes when they enter a dental office that things are being done per the standard and the law. and unfortunately, in this situation, that was not the case. >> reporter: health inspectors called harrington's office the perfect storm for infection. in a 17-count complaint, the state board of dentistry accuses dr. harrington, seen here in an earlier photo, of being a menace to public health, after one of his patients tested positive for hepatitis-c. inspectors say harrington's clinic had rusty equipment, illegally allowed dental assistants to perform iv sedation, and reused needles and drug vials. according to the complaint, one of those vails expired 20 years ago and a device used to sterilize instruments had not been tested in six years.
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>> he said, i don't handle that. talk to my assistants. sterilization questions, i don't handle that, talk to my assistants. >> reporter: joyce baylor had her tooth pulled at the clinic a year and a half ago. now she wonders if she's somehow infected. >> it's scary. it's almost unreal in a sense that this could be happening. >> the likelihood that someone will actually become sick from this particular exposure in this dental office is very small. >> reporter: still, health officials want every patient of this clinic to get tested. just to be sure. patients will begin the process of blood testing later today. they'll know the results, thomas, in about two weeks. >> nbc's charles hadlock, thanks so much. the other big question a lot of people are wondering today is what happens for american amanda knox? now that her murder acquittal has been overturned in italy. will she be forced to go back? t. ♪ the middle of this special moment
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>> >> so now our big three money headlines. one, income sizzles, two soda fizzle, and three coupons cut off. joining me this morning consumer expert regina lewis. it's great to see you. so let's get in there and talk about consumer spending, because there appears to be a trend emerging. which is great news. >> it is great news. in fact, thomas, it surprised economists on the upside. and you can be sure retailers are relieved. so 1% increase in income has translated into increased consumer spending. in fact, more so than we've seen in the last five months. and it could have gone the other direction. so if you are macy's, which is reporting strong sales, you were really concerned that that increase in payroll taxes was going to crush you. meaning people say hey, i'm taking home less, i just can't afford to spend more. also increasing gas prices eating up disposable income. that's not what we saw. so that bodes well for the overall economy. >> kind of gets back to the clinton era days of when we had these tax rates. >> closer. >> closer. exactly. but let's talk about what's really interesting, because you know mayor mike bloomberg here in new york city got a lot of
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flak for wanting to go after people's big gulps and the sugary drinks. but americans are losing their taste for the sugary drinks? so mayor bloomberg was ahead of the curve? >> you know, i think he always is a trend setter. certainly he's helped raise awareness, as has michelle obama with her anti-obesity campaigns. and so clearly, this trend goes back eight years, thomas, so directionally, we've been kind of weaning ourselves off of drinks. of course we're replacing it with flavored water, the red bulls of the world, so this is a trend that is going to make the soda manufacturers have to get real creative. that's why you see beyonce signing with pepsi and changing the bottle. that's why you see guys like mark jacobs, which is a fashion designer, doing neat things with diet coke. so they're going to have to get creative or water and red bull are going to eat up market share. >> and we've got coupons becoming a staple of the economy. a lot of people have always relied on coupons. i mean now we have reality shows about coupon cutters. but certainly during the
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downturn consumer interest was very high, but we're seeing a drop-off now in use? >> well, it's interesting that you mention that reality television show called "extreme couponing" in part, they are to blame for the declines. because it became such a rage that people were going in and clearing shelves, and ringing out at the checkout line, total cost zero. show stopper and so marketers have had to say let's have some checks and balances here. that's why you'll start to see more narrow redemption times, if you don't use it this week all bets are off. or a higher threshold. you have to spend $50 before the coupon works. those kind of things so there's not a few people taking advantage of the system. so the overall effect of that is coupon use is actually currently down 15% to 20%. what will happen moving forward is it will be replaced by digital coupons as people start to use them on their smart 3 phone. >> so the reality show in and of itself by promoting the fact that there were these great deals to be had is almost at fault for drawing people to the
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popularity of wanting to use coupons so marketers say hold up we have to think about this again because we're going to give away all the paper towels. >> the bloggers who run the coupon websites will tell you they saw one, a spike, first of all it certainly created a lot of demand for couponing, then it kind of backfired to your point. >> thanks so much. regina great to see you. appreciate it. in this morning's one-minute playback, conan o'brien and the local news clips that will make you cry out, please make it stop. >> you know a lot of people think the big news stories today, and the supreme court debate on gay marriage and the big snowstorm that's hitting the midwest. but i checked out local news across the country. and apparently there's an even bigger storyp. >> in consumer news economic factors may take some spring out of the east irbunny's step. >> economic factors may take spring out of the easter bunny's step this year. >> economic factors make take some spring out of the easter bunny's step. >> economic factors may take some spring out of the easter
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bunny's step this year. >> economic factors may take the spring out of the step of the easter bunny. >> that's always scary to me. >> yeah. >> what a coincidence! zzzquil™ sleep-aid. it's not for colds. it's not for pain. it's just for sleep. because sleep is a beautiful thing™. ♪ zzzquil™. the non-habit forming sleep-aid from the makers of nyquil®. love your passat! um. listen, gary. i bought the last one. nice try. says right here you can get one for $199 a month. you can't believe the lame-stream media, gary. they're all gone. maybe i'll get one.
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♪ 'cause germs don't stick on me ♪ [ female announcer ] band-aid brand has quiltvent technology with air channels to let boo boos breathe. [ giggles ] [ female announcer ] quiltvent technology, only from band-aid brand. use with neosporin first aid antibiotic. hi, everybody, welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." alex has the day off. i'm thomas roberts. the white house reacting to the very latest in a series of threats by north korea. which says it has entered into a state of war with south korea. nbc's kristen welker is at the white house for us this morning. kristen how seriously is the white house taking these threats? again, this is taking into the perspective that we don't know much about the new leader there of north korea, kim jong-un. >> right, it's a great point, thomas. and that is one reason why the white house is taking this very seriously, at the same time trying to reassure its allies in the region that the united states is prepared to protect them if necessary.
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we got a statement from caitlin hayden overnight. it says we've seen reports of a new and unconstructive statement from north korea. we take these threats seriously and remain in close contact with our south korean allies. but, we would also note that north korea has a long history of bell coast rhetoric and threats, and today's announcement follows that familiar pattern. so again u.s. officials really trying to reassure its allies in the region. but thomas, part of why this is so disconcerting for the white house, this follows a series of provocations by north korea, including a number of missile tests, a rocket launch last december, and north korea just called off its 1953 armistice with south korea. defense secretary chuck hagel responding to all of these calling them incredibly disconcerting. they are watching this quite closely. i can tell you top officials have been in contact with their counterparts in the region as all of this unfolds. the white house monitoring this, watching this very closely, as you point out, thomas, not a
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whole lot is known about kim jong-un. he is a young man. the united states was hoping when he took over in december of 2011 that he would help to lead north korea out of its current state of isolationism. that is not what's happening. in fact, it's quite the opposite. >> kristen welker reporting live from the white house. joining the conversation now is p.j. crowley, former assistant secretary of state. sir, it is great to have you here. as you're hearing the reporting this morning from our kristen will kerr there at the white house earlier in the hour, we had a report from andrea mitchell talking about authority korea being this hermetically sealed country and how this should not be dismissed as pure bluster, secretary of defense chuck hagel saying it only takes one mistake if this is a miscalculation on anybody's part moving forward. is the difference in the rhetoric this time because it's coming from an untested leader like kim jong-un? >> well, sure. he is a black box. the only american that's talked to him is dennis rodman.
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i mean at one level we've seen this kind of cycle of provocation, you know, before. and there is a kind of a wag the dog, if you will, quality to it. as long as it stays at the propaganda level, we'll work through this. the real -- the real new variable if there is one here is, as much as kim jong-un is creating this crisis to solidify his base in north korea, he's challenging a brand-new president, president park, in south korea. and the difference here is that political dynamic. that, you know, from south korea's standpoint, there have been the nuclear tests, the missile test, going back a couple of years, the sinking of one of their ships, the shelling of one of their islands. so the real danger here is one of provocation, escalation, miscalculation, and then, you know, if north korea does something provocative towards the south, the south is likely to respond in some fashion, and then you move into dangerous waters. >> meanwhile the u.s. continues to show its support for south korea with its military
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exercises, joint military exercises. and when we talk about the capability of north korea carrying out their most extreme threats, obviously we know what their threats are to the south, and that they are capable of carrying those out. but what about to the u.s., and the mainlands here? is there the potential that one of their missiles really has the capability of getting here? >> i mean, down the road, i'd say yes. right now it's a limited -- right now, what they're threatening to do, they really do not have the capability clearly the tested capability to carry out. but certainly within the region. they can be a threat to south korea, you know, to japan, and that's why the military exercise was important. it sent a variety of messages to south korea, to japan, as the president says we have your back. you know, to china, or to north korea it says, hey, if you -- if you go further, we are prepared to respond. we will protect our friends in the region. and to china, another variable in this, they're saying we know you don't have the same relationship with the new leader
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that you had with his father, but you've got to do what you can to rein this kid in. >> so, could china, though, convince north korea to shut all this bluster down? i mean, would that relationship be able to do that? >> no. north korea, you know, has become, you know, much more bellicose in recent years to the frustration of china. china has some leverage, particularly on the economic side. but ultimately, because china does not want to see an implosion of north korea, it has some influence but we shouldn't overstate it. >> all right. so based on that variable would the u.s., or what would it take for this escalation to reach a point where preemptive action by the u.s. is necessary? >> well, if it's just words, we'll work through this. if it's actions, then you have a real political challenge in south korea president li the former president had become exasperated enough where he pledged that if, if, if north korea, you know, sinks another ship, shells another island or
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takes some sort of overt action that south korea will respond. and i think president park is going to pick up where president lee left off. so that's the real danger here. it's an action that requires a reaction, and then you have a cycle of escalation that is very uncertain. >> former assistant secretary of state p.j. crowley. sir, thanks for being here. i appreciate it. >> all right, thomas. we move on now to south africa for the very latest on nelson mandela's condition. the former south african president is in the hospital with a lung infection. nbc's keir simmons is joining us from johannesburg. what more are we hearing about mandela's condition? because it has seemed at least over the last 24 hours, that things have improved. >> that's right, thomas. and it does appear as if they continue to improve. we've just had a statement from the south african president's office saying that nelson mandela continues to respond to treatment and is comfortable, breathing without difficulty.
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so that confirms news we've been hearing from nelson mandela's family, his grandson saying he is sitting up in bed and talking. he said that to a british newspaper, and he also said that he is confident that his granddad will return home here in johannesburg. in the same time in this interview, saying they're under no illusions about nelson mandela's state of health. he said we are blessed as a family to have my grandfather with us all these years. we have cherished every moment. and continue to do so. meanwhile, willie mandela speaking to reporters while she went to a church service for easter confirmed that nelson mandela is doing well and thanked president obama for his words of support yesterday when he was meeting with african leaders. she said that that kind of support is inspiring for the family at this difficult time. >> keir simmons reporting from johannesburg. keir, thank you very much. i appreciate it. we move on now to office politics. and in this week's best of edition from talk of war to drones to taking risks as
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journalists, alex began by asking msnbc's chris hayes about the chances of the u.s. launching a strike against iran. >> i think it would be massively incomprehensibly destructive and terrible for there to be any military action against iran. i think we're just sitting here ten years after the iraq war and everyone is talking about the lessons of the iraq war. the lessons are don't start wars. >> the military establishment does very, very well is to destroy people and property. if you want stuff blown up, you want people killed, we're the guys to talk to. >> there's a determination to invade iraq and overthrow saddam hussein from the moment the 9/11 took place. the very afternoon donald rumsfeld is -- is in a meeting with aides, tasking them to get the intelligence to show a link
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to saddam hussein before there was any evidence. >> this is like the checkov quote if you put a gun on stage in the first act it has to go off in the third. if you put military intervention on the table in our political environment, there's a -- you increase the likelihood of it being used. >> when you have terrorists somewhere and the host country where they're hanging out is unable or unwilling to either arrest them or stop them, what are our choices? we've either got to send in special forces, which is possible, but also dangerous to those special forces. or we've got to do something like aircraft or drones, whatever. bottom line is we want to stop these people before they do something destructive against us. and drones are simply one of the tools in the kickback. >> so to the extent that we're able to destroy enemy troops, we've identified, destroyed enemy facilities like training camps and so on, using the drones, great. bomb them? sure, you bet. >> so has the administration sufficiently clarified its position on drones now?
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>> well, you know, look, they have shared the memos on this subject on the killing of american citizens with the intelligence committees. the problem with that is they're classified. >> china is clearly spying on us. we don't know who in china has authorized these things. let's not kid ourselves. you don't freelance in china. >> the president lost a few squirmishes, particularly with the netanyahu government over things like settlement freeze, and it was a little like touching the hot stove, which is that they just kind of walked away. >> the biggest national security threat facing the united states for the immediate future is what is going on inside the united states. it's the fact that we're not dealing with our deficit, or our debt, that our economy is growing at less than half -- roughly half its historical rate. k-12 schools are a scandal. our infrastructure is breaking
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down. and so forth and so on. >> i didn't though anything about the navy s.e.a.l.s or the army rangers. they may not have even had them in that day. but i knew about the marine corps. and of course, in my uniform i looked like a boy scout. but, it was one of the smartest things i've ever done. >> i was an adviser to a vietnamese infantry battalion. we had lost contact with the enemy about three days earlier. got some information about where the enemy was located, and mounted a big operation to go get them. what we didn't know is that the enemy had a spy in the province chief's headquarters and they knew we were coming. they had known for three days. >> coming up today at noon we're going to have more of the best of office politics including perhaps the best perk for chris hayes, in his move now to prime-time. how might the supreme court rule on marriage equality? that's ahead. ♪
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also available in delicious peanut butter. healthy never tasted so sweet. okay. so it could be jub before we hear a historic ruling on those same-sex marriage cases being tackled by the skortd this term. justices are reviewing arguments from both sides of the two big cases. california's prop 8 law that prohibits same-sex marriage in that state. and then the federal defense of marriage act, or doma as it's commonly referred. joining me from washington, d.c. is huffington post reporter ryan riley. and with me here in studio is james essex a member of the edie windsor legal team in the doma case. gentlemen, it's great to have you here. ryan i want to start with you because you were in the room when justice kagan read this excerpt from the 1996 house report about doma itself. take a listen. >> i'm going to quote from the house report here. is that congress decided to reflect and honor a collective moral judgment, and to express moral disapproval of
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homosexuality. is that what happened in 1996? >> we can kind of hear it there. but describe better for us the reaction to that from inside, and was that in the reflection of oral arguments a tipping point? >> sure. i mean it's pretty much the closest thing you get in the supreme court to a gotcha moment, right? she very clearly had this laid out and sort of put paul clement who was defending doma on behalf of house republicans in a stage position. obviously he said a number of people who voted in favor of doma were motivated by animus towards gay rights or the lgbt community. but he said that that, he even admitted that if that was the only reason that this was motivated that it should be properly struck down. but he claimed that it was really a matter of the country, or the congress trying to define or trying to keep uniform what marriage meant on -- on a nationwide basis. and that's what the basis of his argument was.
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but it was the kagan moment was very -- got a big reaction in the courtroom. >> it seems very interesting when we consider how both prop 8 and doma itself, the court is very reflective about state's rights, and where they fall under their purview. james during your argument during this case chief justice john roberts appeared skeptical that the lgbt community, they lack power in government action. take a listen. >> i suppose the sea change has a lot to do with the political force effectiveness of people representing supporting your side of the case. >> as far as i can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case. >> james, as we look at this again and remind everybody, the time line of this, because prop 8 was the day before and wednesday was doma itself. so, now upon reflection, hindsight being 20/20, what do you think that he was making there? the argument or the questioning of you based on the sea change
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of americans feeling that marriage equality is a right, that, that the lgbt community should have access to? >> look, i think he's talking about recognizing the reality in the country that many people are changing their minds about whether fairness requires the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. for same sex couples. but, of course, in our system of government, individual rights don't get put up to a popular vote and even if we have a certain amount of growing support in the country for the freedom to marry, the court still has a job to do which individual rights are protect by the constitution and the court is the body in our country that says what those rights are. >> let's take this from the aspect and i don't want to get too legal here, legalese in the weed so to speak but the standing issue, because that was pivotal in both days of prop 8 who had the stand took there. certainly in the case for doma who had the standing to be there the court brought in vicki johnson from harvard to talk
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about who has the proper standing to bring this case because a lot of people would be disappointed if the supreme court comes back in june and just says well no one has the stand took here. >> indeed. it's hard to make predictions based on the questions that the justices asked in oral argument but i think the court will say there's jurisdiction in the doma case because the question there is there a fight here between miss windsor and the united states that is sufficient to require the government, the court to decide it? it's very easy. the united states has $363,000 of miss windsor's money and she won't get it back. >> she was taxed in the death tax of losing over $300,000 that would not have happened if the government properly recognized her marriage and her relationship of over 40 years. >> yes. ryan last but not least chief justice kennedy who is truly considered to be a swing vote in all of this, certainly with doma
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and prop 8, take a listen to what his thoughts were about prop 8 from tuesday. >> the problem with the case is that you're really asking particularly because of the sociological evidence you cite for us to go into unchartered waters. was the case properly granted? >> is he looking for a way when it comes to prop 8 to come back with something very narrow that would only define what prop 8 means to california not the rest of the country? >> well, it really makes your curious what happened behind-the-scenes. only four of the justices are required to take up the case to begin with. we don't know what the breakdown is. kennedy wasn't in favor of taking this up to begin with. maybe it was getting out too far ahead of the public even though the public is moving in one direction on this. i think it's really -- >> so go ahead real quickly. >> i'm fine. >> okay.
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gentlemen thank you so much. ryan reilly, very fascinate judging. james fascinating. great to meet you in person. we shall all be waiting throughout the summer to see how they come back and late june is when we should have a definitive answer. what are the chances that american amanda knox has to return to italy to face a retrial for murder. we'll bring you some answers next. around the world that sell stolen identities? >> 30-year-old american man, excellent credit rating. >> announcer: lifelock monitors thousands of these sites 24 hours a day. and if we discover any of our members' data for sale, lifelock is there with the most comprehensive identity theft protection available. [♪...] [squealing, crash] call 1-800-lifelock or go to today.
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so two political stories of note. first take a listen. >> don't let the big consultants of big money and the big bad media scare you off. >> loaded for bear that's the name of sarah palin's political action committee's new promotional video. it's intended to energize her base to help the candidates in the 2014 mid-term elections. ♪
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>> jim carey is firing back at his conservative critics who took offense. he called them bullies in a statement released. carey said good people lose patience with the petty behavior of those bullies. will amanda knox have to return through to face retrial? our legal analysts will weigh in on that. i'm thomas roberts. straight ahead, the best of "up." [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven to help people quit smoking. it reduces the urge to smoke. some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. if you notice any of these stop taking chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems, which could get worse while taking chantix. don't take chantix if you've had a serious allergic or skin reaction to it. if you develop these stop taking chantix
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Weekends With Alex Witt
MSNBC March 30, 2013 4:00am-5:00am PDT

News News/Business. New.

TOPIC FREQUENCY North Korea 26, U.s. 21, South Korea 17, Doma 10, China 9, United States 8, Us 8, Nelson Mandela 6, Washington 6, Nbc 5, Kim Jong-un 5, Amanda Knox 4, Chuck Hagel 4, Windsor 3, Gary 3, America 3, New York City 3, Italy 3, Thomas Roberts 3, P.j. Crowley 3
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